Friday, October 28, 2011

Believing the Lie: "Nice" Edition

This is re-posted from my livejournal, and I got a lot of great replies to it. A lot of people said that they felt that "nice" and "real" were different things. I don't necessarily think they are mutually exclusive, and that's kind of where my "Bitch" post from earlier this month comes from. I am all for telling people how it is and being "real" as long as you're not cruel and nasty about it.

Anyway, here's the re-post: :)

Believing the Lie: "Nice" edition.
I think there are several "lies" that people willingly happily believe in life. I use the word lie, and maybe I shouldn't because lies are bad hurtful things, and what I'm talking about here aren't. They are things that most people believe and follow on faith and I think these are terribly important and help us get through life. We need them. We preach them, and we despritely want them to be true. They are part of our humanity. I want to write about a bunch of them over time, but let's be honest here, I'll probably just write this post/rant/entry/essay and then forget about the rest of them. I'm trying to be more honest in my expectations of myself. In this post, I probably come across as preachy, bossy, and a bit self-righteous. I probably am these things, but I am just as guilty of everything I say here as anyone else.

So without further ado, my take on the lie of "Nice":

I was scanning Facebook last night after the baby was in bed and my parents had left, and I wasn't quite ready to go to my own bed (Still debating if I was going to match socks, write birthday thank you's, or just go sleep), and came across this status written by a good friend of mine: (Name redacted):So tired of being a nice person and yet still being constantly left out of everything *sigh* I wanted to comment, but didn't know what to say that wouldn't be trite, just placating, and someone else had already asked what happened, so I didn't say anything but it got me thinking.

We are all taught that we must be nice. 'Play nicely with the kitten, Evangeline', 'That wasn't a nice thing to say SarahBeth', 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar', etc. That if we are nice everyone will like us and want to be around us all the time, we will have good things in life, we will be given opportunities, we will be successful, etc.

I call Bullshit.

First of all: everyone thinks that they are a nice person. Seriously, when was the last time you thought to yourself: 'Geez, I'm a real wanker, it's amazing that anyone puts up with me' and TRULY MEANT IT? Never right? (Unless you are my husband who sometimes thinks he really is a bad person, but not all the time...he knows that I would never had married him if he was) Now, this could be because if you're reading this, I know you and everyone I know is just swell, but I am willing to bet that almost no one honestly thinks that they are just a suck-ass person. Even truly evil people don't go around saying "I just want to make life miserable for people because I can" They have an agenda to justify what they do (or have a voice somewhere telling them) It's really really easy for people to convince themselves that the mean rotten things we all do on occasion, are justified because "I really am a nice person". I am really mean sometimes in my head and in a snark community to a girl I "know" online who I'll just call NL. I don't like her. I don't like her because she is rude to people and self righteous and kind of a c-word. Is it ok for me to be mean about her (never to her "face", I just ignore her) because I'm a nice person in other regards? No, it's not. I do it anyway, but it's not ok, if it were ok, I wouldn't feel so guilty about it. I try to be a nice person, but when it comes to this woman, I just find myself flailing. Does this negate the nice things I do? Nope, but it means that I'm not quite a perfectly nice, sweet person (I actually think there was a time when I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt and was kind, even in my head, to everyone, but that was a long time ago, and life just pushes you sometimes). I knew a guy once, who was the kind of person that would say really mean nasty things to people, or make jokes that were on the cusp of being really rude, and everyone just played it off as "He's just trying to make a joke, and is socially awkward enough that he doesn't realize it's not funny" or "He couldn't have possibly meant it that way" He ended up being a cheat, and said some not very nice things about his (Now ex)wife. Then he moved and some not so nice things happened to him (I don't know details, as I had unfriended him ages before because I didn't want that stuff on my "wall" anymore) and Pat called me over to his computer one day laughing. He pointed to a status by this guy lamenting how "Nice guys like me always get kicked when we're down" or something similar. Um? Him: Not nice, but he honestly thought he was a nice guy, a victim of circumstance.

Second of all: being nice will not get you a job. Seriously, where on your resume or cover letter does it say "Nice person". Go, look, I'll wait...... It doesn't does it? So being nice is not going to land you that interview. Now, being a nice person won't hinder you, unless you come across as a push-over (or a fake), but when it comes down to it, being qualified beyond the other people, and being a good fit with the team/organization if going to get you the job. Your nice-ness quotient probably won't even show in an interview. If it comes down to 2 candidates, both of whom are equally qualified, and would fit equally well, then maybe whomever seems nicer might get the job, or maybe they won't. I used to help my beloved former boss "The chief" with his interviews and resume screening, and the only difference between someone who came across as particularly nice and someone who didn't...was how badly we felt if we didn't offer them the job. To be honest, everyone seems nice at an interview because (hopefully) they're showing their best side. Being nice will not even really help you keep a job. In fact, by trying to be nice, even when someone started to turn on me, eventually caused me to lose a job I loved (now, there was way more to it than that, but there always is). Being nice could get you taken advantage of and still not get to keep your job. A lot of places have a last hired, first "fired"/laid off rule. So nice-ness won't help you there. If you can't do the job/aren't learning fast enough, being nice may get you an extra chance, but it won't save your job in the long run. (Although, it does sometimes help you get better deals from Vendors if they like you). Being nice won't get you into a lab to do your PhD, if you screwed up constantly.

Third: nice is a matter of perspective. Like anything really. I could be nice to a person, and they may be having a really wretched day and think that your nice comment was sarcastic and go off on you. They may think that you are rubbing it in their faces that you are happy and they aren't. You can't control how someone perceives your nice behavior and as I often say "Your perception is your reality" If you are having a dreadful day, and awful things keep happening to you and then you see someone skipping down the road singing to themselves, it can infuriate you. You didn't chose to feel that way, but sometimes it just happens. Another saying of mine is "You can't control how you feel, you can only control your reaction to that feeling" Feelings are reactionary, behavior can be controlled. What I'm saying is that even nice people truly sweet lovely people sometimes go off the deep-end with deeply personal (to them matters) what may have been a sweet gesture in your mind, could be devastating to the person you did said gesture for. Sometimes when you are upset and try to share how you're feeling in a "nice way" to spare someone's feelings and start to repair something broken, they can see it as an attack against them. You never know. So again, nice is a lie.

Fourth, and last as I fear I'm rambling, and not sure this should be a section: Now, some people are nice because they are afraid of karma (I really like the idea of karma, I don't know how much I truly believe in it). I think a lot of people who have had bad things done to us by other people want to think that karma is real. I think people like to think that bad things they've endured because of things/circumstance/health get rewarded for it later too, but that's another rant for another day. We want to know that people are punished for doing rotten things and we are vindicated. However, the people who did bad things, had reasons for them, that they thought were ok, and maybe they are hoping karma happens to you! The problem is that we all want to be good people, and somehow we all can't be. I struggle with this. Why do we need a villain to our hero? Should I watch the movie Unbreakable again? Does SLJ have all the answers? I certainly don't.


As for my friend, She didn't tell what happened in her status, so I don't know what she was left out of. I will tell you though, she IS a nice person, but I'm willing to bet that her being nice had nothing to do with whatever it was. I don't know why she was left out, maybe it was because whomever thought she would be busy packing for her upcoming move, maybe they couldn't provide her transportation, maybe there weren't enough tickets/space/money to have her come along, maybe it was all couples and they didn't want her to feel like a fifth wheel being in a distance relationship, maybe they were planning a bank heist and figured she was too pretty for jail should they get caught. Hell, maybe they just didn't want to see her this time, it could have been anything. This does not negate the fact that my friend is nice, in fact, if she wasn't nice she might not even know the people who left her out. Maybe if she wasn't nice (although admittedly a bit paranoid *wink*) it wouldn't bother her. Her nice-ness has given her a lot of friends, and given her happy memories, and while it can be hard to focus on that when "Nice guys finish last" so often, the times she has "finished last" has not made her a less hopeful, nice person (although, like all of us are wont to do, she does get bitter and disappointed at times).

When it comes down to the brass tacks of it, being nice makes YOU feel good, and I find, makes you an all over happier person, which makes it easier to be nice, and so on, not to mention, when you are nice to someone, they (not always, don't I know it) tend to feel a little nicer as well. However, it can really really be hard to continue to want to be nice/do nice things for others when your efforts are not reciprocated or even seem to go unnoticed, so remember to write those thank you notes (I'm still a tad behind on mine), appreciate those in our lives who are really good to us and remember to pay it forward. "Nice" is something that helps us get through the day, makes us happier in our lives, and helps us initially meet like minded people. Nice will make people think about you when they are away from you, make people want to do you kindnesses when they can. Nice will light up someone's day but unfortunately, in the vast unfairness of life, it will not solve all our problems. Hopefully though, it will help us bare them better. I'm gonna end with a quote from Jerry Springer, just for irony's sake "Be Good To Yourself…and Each Other!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ten List Thursday - pregnancy/motherhood changes

So I know I haven't posted anything in a week, I need to and have a couple posts started, but it's Thursday and I have time for a quick ten list.

10 unexpected things that have changed for me since I got pregnant/had the baby. I did a lot of research when I was pregnant, so I'm not gonna talk about those changes that I expected, or the obvious ones. These are the things that surprised me.

1. My stick straight hair now has a definite wave to it. Having trouble getting used to dealing with it in my bangs.

2. Turtle necks. I used to love them, all warm and cozy and they cover up my icky thyroid scar. Now I can't stand them, to quote the late Mitch Hedberg "[it's] like being strangled by a really weak guy, all day".

3. Coordination, I has it. Ok, so not entirely, but all of the sudden I can catch things. I never was able to before.

4. I no longer enjoy most episodes of Law and Order:SUV or anything else that involves a child getting hurt/lost/losing a parent etc. I always thought I was way beyond all that. I mean I always cry at humane society (Damn you Sarah McLachlan, I hate you) and hallmark commercials, but this is crazy.

5. I no longer feel the same way about work at all. I never thought having a child would change that. Now all I want is to get home to her. Love my job, love the students, love my boss, but if I could afford to stay home with Evangeline, you bet your sweet bum that I would in a New York Minute. I hated being home when I was unemployed so I assumed I wouldn't want to stay home with the baby.

6. I see babies and pregnant people EVERYWHERE. I'm sure there were just as many before, but I think it's kind of link when you first get engaged and you start noticing other people's rings all the time.

7. I worry about making sure I still talk about other things besides the baby, because I know people get sick of it. I kind of never even considered this pre-baby because I thought me as a mother would be just like me before only well, with a baby.

8. I'm suddenly a morning person. Ok, not quite true, I'm a fake morning person. Meaning I am awake instantly when she calls me in and can be chipper and act like I've been up forever. For someone who had insomnia for most of her life, and has ALWAYS been a night person. This change threw me off big time.

9. Itchy! I am seriously itchy someplace all the time. WTF?! Now I live in the country, so get spider bites, but this isn't bites. It's phantom itches. I hate this.

10. I've joined the club. Apparently having a baby gets you into this exclusive club. People who have never spoken to me before stop me in the hall to talk about my baby and their children/grandchildren etc. It's bizzare, they somehow KNOW I'm a mother even though to my knowledge we've never met. People who I thought didn't like me stop and ask to see pictures. People I haven't seen in decades send gifts. It's a nice weird, but still not something I expected.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ten List Thursday - if I had a million dollars (1)

I'm not one to keep to a theme much, but I'm always making ten lists in my head, and I thought instead of mentally playing with them and then forgetting them, I'd make it into a feature post instead.

This first one is a favorite one for me to imagine.

10 things I'd do if I had a couple million dollars, after I paid off all our debts, tithed, caught up on missed gifts, and gone to Disney with our friends. (Priorities people)

1. Buy a really nice wedding gift for my favorite security guard (I overheard that she was engaged, she doesn't know that I know which would make it all the more awesome)

2. Buy groceries and warm winter coats for the 2 homeless guys that I like [not coffee-snob-man (because I don't believe he's really homeless), or touch-people-before-soliciting-them-lady (because not punching her out of shear panic because no one touches my back so I assume every time that she's going to hurt me is enough of a reward for her, she scares me a lot)]

3. Drop a hundred dollar bill in the case of the awesome guys who plays show tunes on his sax in the afternoon some days on Marshall Street. He makes me smile.

4. Treat my favorite baristas to mani/pedis, just because they remember me and always smile at everyone even when the lines are long or people are rude.

5. Send something lovely to each of a certain group of girls I love more than they know and haven't been able to give them the attention they deserve lately.

6. Have professional organizers help me re-do the costume rooms of two high schools in which I have a vested interest. Completely with filling in missing pieces and new storage systems.

7. Randomly pick and go into a restaurant and pay for everyone's lunch.

8. Send Kelle Hampton (Enjoying the Small Things) and her lovely family something special just to say thank you for how much she influences my day for the better.

9. Give a stranger a make-over. (I do this mentally a lot, it would be so much fun to actually do it)

10. Restore French House (this is the only decent pic I could find, the main house is to the left in that picture, and my room is cut out) at my college Russell Sage College for Women where I lived for 3 out of my four years and especially to restore my room, which was original to the house (a tower room) that they removed for "safety reasons" thus the restoration was really just a cheap-o renovation. (Bitter? yes I am! That room was where I became the woman I am, it means a lot to me and I have many many happy memories there, and they tore it out like it was nothing)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipe Review: Homemade "Reese's" Eggs

I am a Pinterest addict. Let me know if you want an invite because it is awesome. While waiting for a digest to finish yesterday I was browsing and re-pinning and came across this: YUM!

OMG! First Pat (my husband) adores anything that Reese's makes. He particularly loves the eggs and other holiday themed treats because there is thinner chocolate and more of the peanut butter heaven. Up until I saw this I had planned on making Evangeline (our daughter) a dress out of a onesie last night after she went to bed, but this changed everything. I was only missing shortening (made one too many pies, oops), and peanut butter (had chunky not smooth), and got some extra chocolate chips just in case.

As I was cooking dinner (mmm, sausage ravioli) I mixed up the peanut butter dough. I ended up melting the butter and softening the peanut butter in the microwave to make measuring/mixing easier. Of course I used my trusty kitchen aid mixer so I saved a ton of trouble. I did end up needing 4 tbs of milk though (maybe because I never shift powdered sugar). I was a bit disapointed when I first tasted the dough because it tasted a bit too raw powdered sugar-y to me, but I kept going and attempted to form eggs, then gave up and made disks instead. I didn't have room in my freezer (damned french door units), so I figured 2+ hours in the fridge would work just as well. I covered them with wax paper and left them until after Evangeline went to sleep.

Once she was in bed, I melted the chocolate, I ended up needing almost 2 tbsp of shortening to make the chocolate the right coating consistency so use your best judgment with that. It's also a damned good thing that I bought extra chips cause I burned the first batch. Pro tip: Do not forget and leave a metal spoon in your chocolate in the microwave, I got distracted because The Mentalist was back from commercial. Simon Baker *swoon*. Anyway, I brought the chilled disks and the chocolate into the living room to dip them in front of the TV (I so need a kitchen TV), and tried to use a chopstick as a skewer. Bad idea, way too thick and it kept breaking the disks. I ended up putting them in the bowl, flipping them, then holding them by the edges so they could drip off. Then I put them on the waxed paper again. They set up nicely within a half hour but this morning they were perfect.

I tried to give one to my husband so he could taste one and let me know what he thought, but when I turned around to give it to him, he was passed out on the couch. High school students wear him out even more than the elementary ones did! So as of right now he can't tell me what he thought. I had one last night and 2(yes 2) for breakfast this morning. (This is why you're fat). So here's my take on them: The filling needed that time in the fridge, not only to firm up but to let the flavors marry well. This morning the filling tasted almost dead on. The chocolate coating was amazing because it was the perfect thickness for the amount of peanut butter and you could (if you wanted) double or triple dip to increases the thickness if you like them that way.

What would I change? I think next time (and there will be a next time)instead of free forming them, I will roll them out and use cookie cutters for fun, I think the coating will be more even that way too, a couple of them I had trouble coating the nooks and crannies with the chocolate.

Final thoughts: It made about 25 of these (big ones) and are cheaper than buying them pre-made. This would also be an awesome recipe to make with kids as they could either cut them out, or form them into their own shapes. They could also eat the "raw" dough because it doesn't have eggs or anything in it. (An adult should do the dipping though, at least until the chocolate cools a bit). I'll let you know what Pat thinks tomorrow! (in an edit)

EDIT: Pat says they look kinda gross (irregular lumpy shape, which will look better when I roll them out and cut with cookie cutters), but tasted on par with real Reese's! Score!

I'll probably edit this to add a picture of them at some point, because an entire blog with no pictures is boring right?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

On being a Bitch

This will be a sister post to one I posted on my livejournal a while back that I will repost here later. I was going to repost it first, but I figured Melissa deserved something new to read.

Bitch, Please.

I want to know when "Bitch" became a badge of honor for women. Seriously, I do. When did being outspoken to the point of cruelty become more desirable that being kind? I'm not saying that women should be simpering spineless drones wandering around with false smiles on their faces pretending that all is right with the world, far from it in fact. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have bitter, catty, mean or snarky moments. I personally happen to love being a bit snarky here and there, if a situation calls for it. You also better believe that I'm gonna stand up for myself when I feel it's warranted. I just happen to chose my battles (and chose them probably more carefully than most because I have a way over active guilt complex and I hate that feeling). I see things like "You say bitch like it's a bad thing" well, I think it is. I have friends who think they are bitches, have told me they think that about themselves, but in truth, they aren't. They're regular women who occasionally say something in a snarky or even painfully blunt way. I do know women who embrace this "bitch" mentality. I have worked with them, my mom still works with women like this. They take pride in being as mean and nasty and back-stabby as they can because they like the drama this causes. These people start nastiness, gossip, and strife that turns people against each other and then sit back and come out smelling like a rose. This kind of thing is what gives women working together a bad name.

I know that I'm not going to like everyone I meet. Far from it, especially people I meet online (hello people in weddingplans that I want to hit *waves*). However, there are ways to deal with it. I can call or text my friends and vent about things. I can join snark communities where I can complain about a person until I calm down enough to handle something with grace and without hurting their feelings. I can come up with ways to confront people that aren't bitchy, especially if I don't think the person meant to piss me off. (Although, this backfires a lot for me, people tend to be so used to me backing down and choosing my battles that they over react like WHOA when I stand up. Once I'm up, I don't back down.). I understand the occasional bout of the bitch within. Especially if it's a straw that broke the camel's back type thing. I definitely am not going to spread rumors, talk trash (even if it's true) with people who are going to get the person in trouble, just cause I don't like a person. Even if a person stabs me repeatedly in the back (or front for that matter), especially because being sickly sweet can be the best revenge in this case (see, I'm no angel).

Now, I know this post sounds a bit really preachy, and there's nothing quite as insufferable as a preachy blogger, especially one making her second post ever. I'm also just as guilty as being an accidental bitch as anyone (I have a bit of a temper, although I'm better at controlling it now). The thing is, this rant comes from a place of pain for me. I lost a job I loved, partially because one of these women decided she hated me enough to call me a name that eventually lead to my boss being forced out of his job, and the resulting new boss getting rid of me for reasons I won't go into. I also hear my mother, a woman who is incredibly strong and rarely displays negative emotion, getting so upset at her co-workers behaving like this because they think she's a snob due to of all things, her vocabulary. Anyway, I promise to make entertaining non preachy posts as well as ones like these. Sometimes you just have to speak what's in your heart ya know?